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It is Microsoft Surface on NFL sidelines. Coaches, players, broadcasters must forget iPad

16 October 2014, 9:42 am EDT By Aaron Mamiit Tech Times
Microsoft paid $400 million to have NFL teams use its Surface Pro 3 tablet on the sidelines during games. However, some people still refer to the tablets as "iPads."  ( Sinchen Lin )

Microsoft paid $400 million before the start of the current National Football League season to have both coaches and players use the company's Surface Pro 3 tablet rather than the iPad of competitor Apple.

Coaches and players are now using tablet computers to analyze plays that just happened on the field, as opposed to the black and white photos of the past.

However, earlier in the year, there were reports that announcers for the NFL were referring to the Surface tablets as iPads and iPad-like tools, which is not what Microsoft would want to hear after spending millions upon millions on the sponsorship deal.

This debacle prompted Microsoft to educate broadcasters regarding the product, which is a move that was confirmed by a spokesperson for the company.

"It's true, we have coached up a select few," said the spokesperson. "That coaching will continue to ensure our partners are well equipped to discuss Surface when the camera pans to players using the device during games."

The coaches and players, particularly the quarterback, traditionally studied Polaroid pictures taken prior and immediately after a snap to be able to analyze formations and draw up plays.

Coaches and players have found that using Surface for this purpose is easier and more efficient. The Surfaces take the pictures quicker and the images taken can be drawn on for the formulation of plays. In addition, the pictures are colored; they look clearer for the viewers.

Surface tablets are wheeled onto the field, provided for the teams regardless if they will be using them or not. While awareness regarding Surface tablets has been increasing, it didn't help Microsoft's cause that the NFL's highest-paid player called the tablets as knockoff iPads.

According to ESPN's Jon Greenberg, Jay Cutler referred to the Surface tablets as knockoff iPads during the discussion of the victory of the Chicago Bears over the Atlanta Falcons. Cutler was unaware of the product despite the massive amount of branding of the Surface around the sidelines of NFL playing fields.

Greenberg added that Cutler said that the Surface tablets work great, but he didn't know their name or the company that made them.

A lot has been demanded from Surface tablets since Microsoft pushed for their usage in NFL sidelines as part of the agreement to sponsor the league. Microsoft was told that the tablets had to be sturdy enough not to break when dropped, easy and fast enough to use in a rush, and have a screen big enough so that several players and coaches can look at it at once.

The tablets should also be able to work in extremely hot or cold temperatures, be glare-resistant, work on a single charge throughout an entire NFL match and not experience delays over a wireless network.

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